More Interview Questions and Answers
How do you deal with interpersonal conflict?
Alternative and related questions:
How did you cope with the most difficult colleague you’ve ever had?
Have you ever had problems getting on with anyone?
The meaning behind the question:
The interviewer is seeking to get a handle on how you are likely to react when faced with interpersonal conflict, in particular whether you know the 'right' way to react and what your relationship-building skills are like.
This question is similar in nature to the 'tough' question I covered back in Chapter 4, "How did you cope with the most difficult colleague you’ve ever had?" The key difference, of course, is that this question asks how you cope with difficult people and difficult interpersonal situations in general, whether with a colleague or with anyone else.
You want to show the interviewer that you won't clash head-on with people, nor will you run away and hide. You'll simply take the professional option of finding ways to deal with them, to put your relationship on a more positive footing.
And I'd suggest you start your answer off on the right foot by pointing out that you generally manage to avoid conflict most of the time.
I'm not the kind of person who lets herself get readily drawn into interpersonal conflict but, sometimes, it's obviously unavoidable. In such cases, I’m not afraid of making my opinion politely but firmly known and I believe that communication – especially in situations involving conflicting points of view – is essential. I certainly don’t believe in reacting aggressively, nor do I believe in ducking out of any confrontation. It’s much more productive to try to understand people, to reason with them and to find common ground and ways of working through any difficulties there may be. Communication is key, so is seizing the initiative to tackle the problem.
Word of warning:
Be prepared for the interviewer to follow up this question by asking what you would do if, despite your best efforts, you remained in conflict with someone.
The Interview Question & Answer Book
More interview questions and answers
Talking about your current employment
- Can you tell me what you enjoy about your current job?
- What will you remember most about your last job?
- Is this the first time you have made an effort to move away from your current employers?
- How do you feel about the possibility of leaving your current job?
- How would you describe your current employer?
Talking about this vacancy
- Wouldn’t you be better suited to working in a larger/smaller organisation?
- How do you feel this vacancy differs from your current role?
- What reservations do you have about your ability to undertake this job?
- Can you describe your ideal working environment to me?
- How do you feel we compare to our competitors?
- What would you say is our Unique Selling Point?
- What would be your analysis of the current trends in our industry/sector?
Understanding your career path, plans and ambitions
- What aspects of your career path would you like to have been different?
- What are your greatest regrets about the path your career has taken?
- What has been the greatest challenge you have faced in your career to date?
- What do you think are your main career options for the next five years?
- What exactly does the word ‘success’ mean to you?
Addressing problems in your career history
- Why did you only stay with this organisation for such a short time?
- Why did you stay with this organisation for such a long time?
Coping with stress and pressure
- Are you able to multitask?
- Can you juggle a number of different projects simultaneously?
- How do you handle rejection/disappointment/failure?
- How do you deal with interpersonal conflict?
- What does tact and diplomacy mean to you?
- What makes for a successful team?
Management and leadership
- Would you describe yourself as a good manager?
- Do you really think you’re management material?
- What is your attitude to delegation?
- Can you give me an example of a time when you had to lead from the front?
- Have you ever had to fire or lay off a member of your staff?
- How would you describe your ideal team member?
Personal and professional development
- In what ways do you intend to improve upon your performance?
- How has your current job prepared you for greater challenges/responsibility?
Interests and activities
- What book are you reading at the moment?
- What newspaper do you take?
- Are you interested in current affairs?
The amateur psychiatrist
- If you won the lottery what would you do?
- Can you tell me about the best teacher you ever had?
- If you could meet any historical figure, who would it be and why?
- What are you most afraid of?
Money, money, money
- Why aren’t you earning more?
- How much do you think you are really worth?
- How much does money matter to you?
- Would you still be interested in this job if you current employer offered a pay rise?
- Have you ever had to take a pay cut to keep your job?
- Have you ever asked for but been refused a pay rise?
Author: James Innes